Hebden Township Historical Data

Coal Mining in Hebden

There are two areas in Hebden where seams of coal within the gritstone have been worked - on Bolton Haw Side overlooking Hebden Gill on the west of the township, and Game Ing Flat to the west of Gate Up Gill in the extreme east of the township. In both cases, the exploitation was on a small scale, leaving little evidence today. In the case of Bolton Haw Side, the mining was undertaken by individuals excavating short levels; in the case of Game Ing Flat, the coal was extracted from seams exposed in a lead mine.

The mineral rights of the once-unenclosed areas of Hebden belonged to the Trust Lords of Hebden Manor, and the rights to extract lead or coal from nominated areas were leased out. A Barmaster appointed by the Trust Lords was responsible for administering the leases and collecting the revenue.

Debris from surface excavations to extract coal.
Spoil heaps from the coal mines on Bolton Haw Side.
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Much of what we know about coal mining in the township comes from the Barmaster records, and the Northern Mine Research Society have generously allowed access to their transcripts of those records. We are indebted to them, and in particular, to Mike Gill who has shared his expertise. Unfortunately, the Barmasters' record keeping appeared to have sometimes been chaotic and spasmodic, and the period between 1818 and 1835 is missing altogether.

The coal seams are associated with shale beds laid down within the Millstone Grit series, which is part of a huge area of deltaic sediment deposited about 330 million years ago. Where seen on Bolton Haw Side, the seams are about 12.5 cm thick; in Game Ing Flat the shale bed contains three seams: 11.5 cm, 10 cm, and 6.5 cm thick. In comparison, industrially exploited coal seams are more like 3 metres thick.

The leases were granted for a number of years, but in all known cases the leases were forfeited when the lessee stopped working the mines. Up to 1835, the lessee was obliged to pay a royalty on the coal extracted, which was distributed, after expenses, to the Trust Lords, the levy being one penny per load. Judging from the records of the amount of coal extracted, it is likely that a load was the quantity that could be carried in a given container by a man. Such a system required a considerable amount of administration on the part of the Barmaster, and from December 1835, leases were granted at an annual rent of £2 12s 6d, a system far easier to administrate. Having said that, Joseph Mason paid both a duty and rent in the 1850s and 1860s.

Bolton Haw Side

The area worked on Bolton Haw Side is a small area on the slopes of Hebden Gill mainly in the field opposite Duke's Level (although the moors were unenclosed during the main period of exploitation), but there were also smaller scale activities in the field to the north.

Bolton Haw Side mining areas.
Bolton Haw Side Mining Areas.
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According to Wharfedale Mines, written by Mike Gill, and published by the Northern Mine Research Society in 1994, coal has been worked on Bolton Haw Side since at least 1729, when 43 loads were recorded as being taken from Langholme Gill to Hebden smelt mill. The location of the smelt mill is unknown, but Langholme Gill is almost certainly the small gill that runs up Bolton Hawside from just north of the Duke's Level. There is actually a mine entrance in this valley, but the passage is blocked after a couple of metres.

The main evidence on the ground of the mining activities are steep banks of rejected spoil in the south of the area, an open entrance to a coal level, and an access track. Above the lower spoil heaps the track rises up from near the north wall corner towards The Hush wall before bending back in a northerly direction towards the top of the slope. Near the top, the enclosure wall has been built across it. A branch, some of which has been built up with stone blocks, goes off from the apex of the bend towards Hargreaves Level. As can be seen on the 1853 6" Ordnance Survey map, there was no significant route down the gill, and the coal was transported up the hill and back along Edge Lane

Debris from surface excavations to extract coal.
The coal mine access tracks on Bolton Haw Side from near Langholme Lathe.
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On the lower part of the track, gullies in the hillside are remnants of the mine entrances. The spoil was dumped on the west side of the track down the hill. The track appears to follow the horizon of the seam of coal, which must dip towards the north. There is evidence for two other horizons of coal workings above the main one.

The Northern Mine Research Society survey of the only mine still open on Bolton Haw Side, gives an indication of the methods used to extract coal. A stone-lined level was driven for a few metres, about a metre high and a metre wide, to where there was a sufficient amount of overlying rock to provide some stability, and then side galleries were driven to where the shale bed could be excavated to retrieve the coal and surrounding shale. Pillars of material were left to support the roof. These were probably removed when it was deemed that the area had been exploited as much as could be done safely, and the resulting chambers allowed to collapse.

NMRS survey of Hargreaves Level.
NMRS plan survey of Hargreaves Level, reproduced with permission.
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Barmaster records are available from 1798, but the first mention of coal is from 1809 when it is recorded that 2s 1d was received "from John Tomson for 25 Lds of Coles at 1d per load", but there are no details of the associated lease. According to baptism records, in 1807 John Tomson was a miner living at Garnshaw. In 1810, £0 10s was received from "Wm Rodock" for 120 loads of coal. There is no reference to a lease associated with this, but it is likely to have come from Bolton Haw Side after Tomson relinquished his lease, as the context make it likely that it was in final settlement before the next lease was granted.

The first record we have of a lease being granted was on 3rd December 1810, when "At a Meeting of the Lords and Land Owners of the Mineral Field of Hebden it is Agreed that Thos. Whitaker and Thos Birch get Coal between Bolton Gill and West Hush and no Other Person or persons to be alowed to get any coal in the same ground and to pay one penny per Load as Dues the days of payment to be the first Monday in January and the first Monday in July each year." West Hush is now known as "The Hush", and is where the Mossy Moor Reservoir outlet now drops into Hebden Gill.

Thomas Birch was born in Hebden in 1750 and lived to the ripe old age of 92. Thomas Whitaker cannot be identified with any certainty. Interestingly, neither appear in Hebden's 1803 Muster Role. They seem to have worked independently, as the Barmaster kept separate accounts for them.

"An Account of Coal got by Thos Birch upon Hebden Moor"

Date No. of loads Royalty
30 Dec 1810 18 £0 2s 6d
9 Feb 1811 24 £0 2s 0d
28 Feb 1811 30 £0 2s 6d
30 Mar 1811 60 £0 5s 0d
28 Apr 1811 148 £0 12s 4d
25 May 1811 169 £0 14s 1d
14 June 1811 114 £0 9s 6d
27 Sep 1811 39 £0 3s 3d
19 Oct 1811 60 £0 5s 0d
16 May 1812 60 £0 5s 0d

"An Account of Coal got by Thos Whitker upon Hebden Moor"

Date No. of loads Royalty
29 Dec 1810 18 £0 1s 6d
26 Jan 1811 21 £0 1s 9d
23 Feb 1811 43 £0 3s 7d
2 Mar 1811 30 £0 2s 6d
30 Apr 1811 30 £0 2s 6d
25 May 1811 16 £0 1s 4d
15 June 1811 76 £0 6s 4d
13 July 1811 63 £0 5s 3d
10 Aug 1811 39 £0 3s 3d
7 Sep 1811 72 £0 6s 0d
5 Oct 1811 78 £0 6s 6d
4 April 1812 20 £0 1s 8d
18 May 1812 49 £0 4s 1d
26 Oct 1812 60 £0 5s 0d
16 Nov 1812 60 £0 5s 0d
30 Nov 1812 32 £0 2s 8d

There are no returns for 1813 and 1814, so it appears that Birch and Whitaker relinquished their lease.

The next record we have is of Anthony Thompson being granted a lease in December 1835: "Let to Anthony Tompson all the cole seams and beds within the manor and Royalty of Hebden Moor for the term of seven years. He paying the sum of £2 12s 6d a meer. The same to be paid on middsummers day first ensewing and so on every midsummer day for the term of seven years the beginning of this time to be on the 1st day of Jan 1836. He is to work the same according to the agreement bearing date above."

It is not clear who Anthony Thompson was, neither appearing in the 1841 census nor in the parish records. He paid for the lease until the end of 1841. In June 1837 he was also granted a lease for extracting lead ore in Grove Gill, and in October 1840 he was granted a lease for extracting lead ore from five meers on Bolton Haw Side, having supposedly found a vein during his coal extraction activities.

Thompson's venture didn't last long, and in February 1842 Christopher Dogget and Thomas Hargreaves were given a lease for "whole of the coal seams on Hebden Moor for the term of seven years they paying £2-12s-6d a year. They to keep all their shafts or pits which are not working well and properly covered up and if any misfortune or the loss of stock occur by their neglect they to be liable to damages the rent to be paid yearly.

Christopher Daggett is recorded as being a twenty-year old farmer living in Burnsall in 1841. In 1847 he baptised his child at Linton, and is recorded as being an Innkeeper on Greenhow Hill. Thomas Hargreaves was recorded as being a Hebden lead miner in 1841.

Christopher Dagget must have opted out, because in June 1844, a further lease was issued: Thomas Hargreaves and Jno. Rodwell the Rothram Coal Mine for the term of three years at 10s per year rent. they to drive in a new level to the south of the level drove by Anthony Thompson and to keep the mine in good working repair and deliver up the same in good repair at the end of three years and the rent to be paid on the 1st of Jan in each year. There is then a gap in the records, so it isn't known for how long Hargreaves worked the mine.

The reference to "Rothram" is unclear. The entrance to what is thought to be Hargreaves Level is the only one on Bolton Haw Side that is still open. It is located at SE 0273 6471 at an altitude of about 270 m. The NMRS surveyed it in 1972 when they found that it had a main level heading into the hill side for about 50 metres, with a number of short, blocked side galleries.

Entrance to Hargreaves Level on Bolton Haw Side.
Entrance to what is thought to be Hargreaves Level on Bolton Haw Side.
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The next record we have of coal being mined from Bolton Haw Side is in 1854 when the barmaster recorded receiving £1 in rent from Joseph Mason for the coal in 1853 and 1854, and 16s 10d for duty of 202 loads of coals sold by him (1d per load)". The last record of a rent being paid by him was in 1867, and the last record of him paying duty on coal was in 1863 when he paid 6s 4d for 76 loads. This was almost certainly Joseph Mason from Gargrave who owned a number of textile mills in the area, including Hebden Mill. Being a landowner in Hebden, he was also a Trust Lord. He built Mossy Moor Reservoir to serve as a compensation reservoir for Hebden Beck, for which he paid 10s rent a year. He must have employed someone to extract the coal for him. It is probable that coal mining had ceased by the early 1870s, as the mechanical power cable which ran from near Hole Bottom to Bolton Gill crossed the access track.

The initial lease granted in 1853 to John Osborne and William Sigstone Winn (later to become the Hebden Moor Mining Company) for the right to extract lead, included the right to "100 acres of coal without charge in case they shall require them for working of any steam engine to be used for the said mines but not otherwise.". An acre of coal is effectively an acre of a coal seam. This clause was also included in the two lease renewals, but there is no evidence that the company ever took advantage of it.

The shaft that collapsed in 1993 on Bolton Haw Side has been interpreted as a coal shaft by some sources (e.g. Hudson Institute of Mineralogy). It was, in fact, a ventilation shaft into Charger Level which is a lead mine.

Game Ing Flat

Game Ing Flat is the area north-west of where Grove Gill joins Gate Up Gill. As can be seen in the Grimwith Mining Company prospectus map it is crossed by the Bycliffe Vein which was successfully exploited on Grassington Moor. The vein, which run north-west, had been worked in the Hebden township since the mid-eighteenth century from shallow shafts, but in 1811 Thomas Dickinson & Co. were granted a lease for the whole of the Grove Gill vein from the eastern to the western boundary of the township:

Memorandum of Agreement that Joseph Chamberlain Barmaster & Agent for the Lords and Landowners of Hebden in the County of York do hereby Grant to Thos. Dickinson Henery Walton and all their Other partners all the Lines of Lead or Veins of Lead Ore and Coal on Hebden Moor in the County of York aforesaid Bounded as follows viz 5 Meers on the South Side of Grove Gill Vein and all the ground laying to the North side of the said Grove Gill Vein to the extent of Hebden Boundary and on the Wes side by the Boundary of Grassington Manor and in the East by the Manor of Appletreewick or Gateup Gill for the Term of Twenty one years on Condition of Receiving One Tenth Duty in Lead and One Penny per Load for Coal and other Conditions as usual in Granting Leases of Mines and also do grant them liberty for making such roads as are necessary for Carrying away the said Coal and Lead or other materials as are necessary for the said Mines at the expense of the said Mr Dickinson Henry Walton and their Other partners. AND FURTHER that an Account of the Quantity of Coal which is got in the proceeding month shall be Delivered in on the first Monday of the Month following and the time of payment to be on the first Monday in January and the first Monday in July in each year and further to keep and continue in possession of the House which the said parties has erected there AND FURTHER that when fifty tons of Lead has been got by the said parties that a Smelt Mill shall be erected at the expense of the Lords and Land Owners of the said Township the Leses to give three days notice to the Bar Master for throwing out the Lead.

The building referenced still exists. It is implied by the Memorandum of Agreement that it was built at the expense of all parties, but there is no equivalent expenditure in the Barmaster accounts. However, it is likely that Thomas Dickinson started off the enterprise by himself, as there is a reference in the 1808 accounts: "Dues Recd from Thomas Dickinson as per bill: £11 14s 0½d". If, in the process, he had discovered the coal seam, it would explain why coal was included in the agreement, which was unusual.

A level was driven NGR SE 0550 6657 at an altitude of about 350 metres, in the corner between the beck and a more recent enclosure wall.

The entrance to Old Prosperous level and associated mine building.
The entrance to Old Prosperous level and associated mine building.
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The 1852 6" Ordnance Survey map shows an access track to the mine along the western bank of Gate Up Gill.

Initially, the level was driven north, and then north-west along the vein. Although the vein was five feet thick, it was poor in ore, and only one ton of lead was produced in two years. The coal seam was encountered about 100 metres from the entrance, and was exploited from its own level - "Beast Level". The productivity of the seam was fairly high, although the accounting in the Barmasters' records are confusing. In 1812 an itemised list implies that 798½ loads were declared. In 1813 the records imply that 684½ loads were produced. In 1814, although Dickenson's were still declaring lead, a Richard Hudspith appears to have been mining the coal, as he paid duty on 523½ loads. Dickinson's must have relinquished their lease, for a new lease was granted in 1816 to another set of adventurers. After this, the records are missing until 1835, and although lead was being produced from Game Ing Flat at that time, no more coal was declared.

The following is a cross-section of the mine, showing the location of the Beast coal level, produced by the Hebden Moor Mining Company, probably in the 1850s.

Cross-Section of Old Prosperous Mine.
Cross-Section of Old Prosperous Mine.
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